25th April 2010

On Reviewing Restaurants

There must be worse gigs than reviewing restaurants for the VVOC site! In case any readers of these pages have been wondering, every review is based on at least one meal in the restaurant, and if there’s a generally affirming tone this reflects a desire to be positive rather than negative and a decision not to comment on places where I’ve been disappointed; there are a few such places, but why share gloomy experiences? There is no restaurant reviewed on this site at which I wouldn’t be happy to eat tonight.

Naturally I hope that the curiosity of readers will be piqued and that some will decide to try the places I’ve recommended. But a deeper motive lies behind these reviews, which I hope will make them relevant to readers far from where they’re being written. Every veg*n has been confronted with the question from omnivores, often asked with friendly exasperation, ‘Well, what do you eat?’ It’s a sensible question if they assume that we eat what’s left on the plate after the animals have been removed, the empty spaces being filled with double helpings of, say, carrots and spinach. But its implications are false. There is a vast range of veg*n main meals in existence, most of them of non-Western origin, that are extremely tasty, nutritious, and cheap. I hope that these reviews indicate something of the limitless possibilities of such food and will encourage people, whatever their current dietary practice, to widen the range of what they eat. And while it’s true that we cannot eat out every night, the restaurants reviewed here are not particularly up-market, and many of the dishes they serve aren’t all that difficult to prepare at home from easily available ingredients.

This site is maintained by members of the Orthodox Church. Of course you can be a better Orthodox than we are without being veggie, just as you can be a morally informed veggie without being Orthodox. But in our experience the two areas of practice sit well together and reinforce each other: an Orthodox attitude to the world (or perhaps better the Creation) easily finds expression in veg*nism. The early pages of the Bible describe an initial injunction for a vegan diet and its replacement by one for an omnivorous diet (Gen 1:29, 9:3), a change associated with a move from humans exercising dominion over animals (Gen 1:28) to their having dread and fear of us (Gen 9:2, strong language!). The examples of the Saints encourage us to think of a restitution of the former state, as does the language of Hebrew prophecy, which envisages peaceful relations among creatures (Is 65:25), and a time when the gentiles beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks (Is 2:4), their weapons being turned into tools for the production of veg*n foods.

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